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MUSC Health Blog

Keyword: pre-season

By Stephanie Davey, MEd, ATC, PES
Athletic Trainer
MUSC Health Sports Medicine

The middle of July means that high school football is just a couple of weeks away. In South Carolina, most of our high schools start around July 27th. If your son is planning to play football and go through preseason, there are a few things they need to focus on off the field in order to be safe and productive on the field.

Hopefully, your son has already been working on his conditioning. This will go a long way to him being able to acclimate to the South Carolina heat. South Carolina High School League mandates an acclimatization practice plans that all high schools must follow. If you have questions about that plan you can find it on the South Carolina High School League website

Hydration is always the first thing that comes to mind when we think of preseason football. Your son must be hydrated prior to reporting to practice each day. There is no way to catch up if they are already dehydrated when they arrive. Two ways to tell if they are hydrated is monitoring the color and volume of their urine and making sure they weigh in and out of practices. Their urine should be a light yellow color and high in volume before they go to bed each night. Secondly, they should be weighing in prior to practice and out after practice. They can do this at home or with their athletic trainer. For every pound that they lost during practice, they need to drink 20-24 oz of fluid. If they do not regain the weight they’ve lost during the previous practice, they may need to be held out of practice until they’ve rehydrated. To rehydrate, they should consume water and a sports drink. Soda and beverages with a high caffeine content should be avoided. Energy drinks should not be consumed at all.

The next thing to focus on is proper nutrition. The body is just like a car, the better fuel you put in it the better it performs. Your son needs quality food that is high in nutrition volume with a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Your son needs 40 – 50 kcals/kg of body weight. They should consume 4-8g/kg of carbohydrates and 2-3 g/kg of proteins.  Foods to focus on are lean meats, eggs, nut butters, protein shakes, pastas, and fruits and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables with a high water content can also help to hydrate. Your son needs to eat prior to practice, even if it is an early morning practice. It shouldn’t be a big heavy meal, but they need to have some source of energy before practice.

The last thing to focus on is sleep. The National Institute of Health recommends that high school athletes get an average of 9-10 hours of sleep each night.  Proper sleeping habits with allow your son’s body the time it needs to recover after each practice.  It allows him to stay focused and think clearly during practice. Better recovery and better focus leads to better performance.

Taking these steps will go a long way towards protecting your son during preseason football, ensuring that he has a fun, productive and safe football season.

Guest Post by:

Stephanie Davey, ATC
Certified Athletic Trainer
MUSC Sports Medicine

It’s that time of year again……High School Football season!  July 31st marks the first day of high school football pre season training in South Carolina.  Hopefully, our student athletes have had a fun and safe summer, but now that the summer is over we find out how prepared they are for the upcoming season.Football players on field

All high school football programs have a different policy for summer training.  Some make it mandatory to participate in a strength and conditioning program run by the coaches.  Some trust their student athletes to train on their own.  When the football players report to the first day of practice, some will be in the best shape of their lives, some will not.  It’s likely to be very hot and very humid.  In order to protect the athletes, coaching and sports medicine staffs have to account for the varying levels of fitness and prepare for the worst.  One way to do that is by setting a practice schedule that allows all players to acclimatize to the heat.

Allowing athletes to acclimatize to the heat, prepares their bodies to physical exertion in high heat and humidity.  This helps protect them from the varying stages of  heat illness.  Acclimatizing is a gradual increase of time and exertion in the heat.  Practices start with the football players wearing helmets, shirts, and shorts only.  Gradually, they add equipment until they are in full pads.  They also increase the time spent in the heat gradually.

Currently, there are only a handful of states that have mandates requiring heat acclimatization.    Some states do have guidelines and some states high school governing bodies have rules.  In South Carolina, teams follow a 14 practice schedule.  On practice day 1, they are limited to 3 hours in helmets, shirts, and shorts.  They gradually increase to full gear on day 14.

While we all want our student athletes to be able to relax and have fun over the summer, reporting to fall practice out of shape can be dangerous.  Not only does proper fitness increase their performance, but it also decreases an athlete’s chances of suffering a heat illness episode.  So encourage all your student athletes to have fun and stay in shape over the summer!

Guest Post by:

Michael J. Barr, PT, DPT, MSR
Sports Medicine Program Manager
MUSC Sports Medicine

If you are a regular reader of our sports medicine blog, or if this is your first time visiting our site, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and I hope our team has been providing useful information that has helped keep you on the field, court, or track.  All of our sports medicine specialists have special interests and expertise in certain realms of sports; me – I am a soccer person.  For those of you who are also soccer people, know that means I did not just play, but I am also dedicated to the growth of the game and to those who have played before me and those who will play after me.  I have played and coached at multiple levels in the US and abroad; the biggest thing I have noticed, throughout my playing and coaching career and now as a sports medicine provider, that can affect ones performance on the field during the season, is their individual level of fitness the first day of pre-season.

Many people believe that pre-season training should be used to get fit and prepare for the upcoming season.  This is partially true; however, the most productive pre-seasons are when players arrive to training fit and ready to play.  That way the team can focus on team fitness and not individual limitations, and they can start preparing both technically and tactically for the upcoming season.  If a player arrives into camp over weight and out of shape, they need at least 2-4 weeks to get fit, which hinders overall team development.  This issue holds true not just for professional soccer players but high school and club as well.

The old school of thought is to just go out and run a couple of miles or run 6-8 laps around the field.  Yes, I think there is a time and a place for distance running, but training programs, especially those pre-pre-season fitness programs should be individualized and have a level of periodization to best optimize a players abilities, in order to meet the demands of their specific position.  Therefore a back-to-goal forward should have a different workout program than an outside mid-fielder that continually makes overlapping runs and serves balls from deep into the offensive third.  So when designing your pre-pre-season training program, it is important to work with your coaches and athletic trainers to design a specific program to meet your individual needs.  All out-of -season training programs should include a combination of sprint training (I like to use the pyramid technique), interval training, strength and stability training, plyometrics and agility exercises, as well as long distance running.  My suggestion is that out-of-season fitness training should be done without the ball, so then during the season you can focus more on fitness with the ball and sprint work.

Here is an example of a pre-pre-season training program to get you started, but remember you will still need to tailor this to the individual demands of your position and your general fitness.

Day 1: Interval runs, plyometrics, and stability exercises:

·         Interval running: utilizing the soccer field sprint the baseline, then jog the sidelines completing 4-6 laps*.  (this can be progressed by increasing the number of laps, or transitioning to sprinting the sidelines and jogging the end lines or if you want even more of an interval split the sidelines as well so you would sprint from the corner to midfield, jog from midfield to the corner, sprint the end line, jog corner to midfield, etc. …)

* Number of laps should be dependent on starting fitness level. Start with total of a mile and then progress the number of yards to 1.5 to 2 miles

·         Plyometric exercises: single leg hops, double leg jumps, scissor jumps

·         Core strengthening and stability exercises: push-ups, crunches, leg lifts, planks (front and side)

Day 2: Sprint training, agility training, and stability exercises:

·         Pyramid Sprint Training:

o   30yds x 2

o   60yds x 2

o   120yds x 1

o   90yds x 2

o   60yds x 2

o   30yds x 2

* 15-30 sec rest between each sprint

·         Agility ladder or cone exercises

·         Pyramid Sprint Training:

o   30yds x 1

o   60yds x 1

o   90yds x 1

o   120yds x 2

o   90yds x 3

o   60yds x 3

o   30yds x 3

* 15-30 sec rest between each sprint

·         Core strengthening and stability exercises

Day 3: Strengthening and Distance running:

·         Weight training –full body, light weight, high number of repetitions.

o   Dumbbell Chest Press on stability ball: 3x20

o   Dumbbell Overhead Press seated on stability ball: 3x20

o   Single Arm Dumbbell Row with opposite arm on stability ball: 3x20,

* Exercises 1, 2, 3 should be completed in rotation, i.e.: 1 set of each exercise and then repeat

o   Reverse Crunch to lumber rotation (medicine ball between knees): 2x20

o   Single leg wall slide with stability ball and dumbbells: 2x20

o   Mini-Squat on BOSU with balance: 2 sets of 10 x 20 second hold

o   Single Leg Romanian Dead Lift:  Balance on 1 leg, hold a 5-10 lb weight in your opposite hand: 2x20

·         Distance running – minimum of 2-3 miles, should be completed in at most 7 to 8 minute mile pace (depending on distance, age and fitness level)

Day 4:  Off – stretching only

* Days 5-7: start over on day 1 again – increase times, repetitions, and weight as needed

* Dynamic Stretching should be completed at the beginning of each workout and static stretching should be completed at the end of each workout session.

The above workout is purely a guideline to use to start designing your individual pre-pre-season training program.  Work with your coaches and athletic trainers to help design a program that meets your individual needs, and encourage your teammates to do the same.  If your entire team shows-up to the first day of pre-season fit and ready to go, you will be 2 steps ahead of your competition.


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